Was 2006 a strange year in politics? To some, it probably was.
Retiring Senator Lincoln Chafee is going out with a laugh. He appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this past Monday.
The interview revolved around the issue of the lack of moderate Republicans in Congress.Nevada is starting to build it's presidential caucus.
Stewart got right into it by asking Chafee about being a moderate Republican in congress, saying "it must be a lonely lunch table over there."
"Yes, there are fewer and fewer. We started with five when I got there, Jim left the party, I was defeated so there is three left," Chafee said. "I had lunch every Wednesday with Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Jim Jeffords, and myself. Two down, three are left."
Stewart then asked if the other people in the lunchroom would throw food at them.
"Well, it started in the '80s and '90s with a much more robust lunch of moderate Republicans," Chafee said. "But, through time, there were fewer and fewer, and it got down when I got there in the late 1990s, 1999 there were five of us. And now there are three."
"That's one of the saddest things I have ever heard," Stewart responded as Chafee went on to explain how the moderate Republicans started to drop in number.
"Well, what has happened is the southerners have taken over the party and all those southerners used to be conservative Democrats," Chafee said. "All our Republicans come from the south, so they are all conservative."
"The Republican party's strength right now is absolutely centered in the south and then they just pull in from the west I would guess," Stewart added.
"Yeah, Wyoming, and Montana," Chafee answered. "Conrad Burns, from Montana, lost this election, he was a Republican, so we are losing some. Even though a state like Montana, which you would think of as a very conservative state, it is losing its Republicans. That's too conservative even for Montana."
Stewart then asked Chafee if he supported same-sex marriage and was against the war in Iraq. Chafee's response received loud applause from the New York audience.
"Yes, and I declined to vote for President Bush and I made it public," Chafee said.
Stewart then asked Chafee what was wrong with the way political parties function now that they do not have set standards of what represents Republican and what represents Democrats.
"I think the primary process is the really most difficult part because the Republican primaries encourage you to be very, very conservative as you run for president," Chafee said. "The democratic primaries are the opposite; they encourage you to be very, very liberal. The president sets the agenda. President Bush came in and even good moderate sane Republicans followed him. The whole caucus just lined up behind the president."
Stewart then asked Chafee why they could not stand up against the president and realize that "we are not supposed to just rubber stamp this guy just because he is our party."
"That's what has frustrated me more than anything in the time I have been there," Chafee said. "Some of these senators have been there from the '70s, '80s and been through all the deficits. Then, as soon as we come up with a big tax cut, they all line up right behind it. I stood up and said no. I argued with my colleagues and asked them what are we doing here. We just got out of deficits, why are we having a big tax cut?"
"And what did they say to you, hey man, shut up, or we are taking away one of Rhode Island's senators," Stewart responded.
In an email to his supporters, Gov. Vilsack shares the following:
I am excited to share with you that I will be going to New York City on Monday, December 18th to be on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.Six Rabbis from Phoenix left a meeting with former President Jimmy Carter in disappointment.